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The city could tear down part of McCormick Place to make room for the Lucas Museum

Zach Long
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Zach Long
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With the proposed site for the George Lucas Museum, a parking lot near Soldier Field, still the subject of a lawsuit filed by Friends of the Parks, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is trying to circumvent a lengthy battle in court. In an effort to keep the museum in Chicago, Mayor Emanuel is now proposing the demolishment of McCormick Place East (also known as the Lakeside Center) to make way for the institution, according to a report from the Sun-Times. The destruction of the building, which opened in 1971, would create 12 acres of prime lakefront real estate—more than enough room for the expansive museum that Lucas has proposed.

Of course, the new site wouldn't be immune to another lawsuit from the Friends of the Parks—just like the Soldier Field parking lot, the land that houses McCormick Place East is owned by the Chicago Park District. According to the Sun-Times, the mayor is hoping to avoid another legal battle by proposing a structure that incorporates large amounts of new green space, differentiating it from the existing Lakeside Center. 

What will McCormick Place get in return for knocking down the Lakeside Center, which houses the Arie Crown Theatre and a 300,000 square foot exhibition hall? The Sun-Times reports that Mayor Emanuel would call for another expansion of McCormick Place's facilities, giving it "more contiguous floor space than any convention center in the world." The replacement of lost space is key, as the convention center needs to retain its large footprint to accommodate large shows that previously made use of McCormick Place East.

While nothing has been publicly announced, this is clearly the mayor's last ditch effort to secure the Lucas Museum's future in Chicago. Lucas has made it clear that he would like to see the museum built within his lifetime—if this plan falls through, he'll likely take the project (and all of his classic Star Wars memorabilia) to another city.

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